Boar roared loudly as the mighty fortress of Ondernifam came into view. Deep within the mountains of the orcish nations, the fortress was a towering might, higher than any orcish fortress had ever grown before. Without other nations continuously tearing it down, the orclings had been able to build it to enormous heights. Walls towered hundreds of feet into the air, towers rose still higher. The smoke from countless fires drifted up around the whole thing, giving an ominous feel to the structure.
It had been a month since Boar took the city of Herogod. A month since he had slain the traitors, a month since he had finally taught that imp Franclin a proper lesson. And, now, he was back. Back to his master, back to his home.
The path began to wind down into the gap between the mountains, before traversing a mighty stone bridge that led up to the castle itself. Two guards snapped to attention as Boar wandered into view, and both leveled spears at him.
“Mighty warriors, it is I, Boar!” Boar thundered. “You will allow me to pass!”
“The mighty Boar, Second to Ondernifam, will pass!” The guards stepped to the side. “You are expected. Ride with haste.”
Boar frowned. “I am expected?”
The guards nodded shortly. “All guards have been told to expect you, to relay the message.” One of them looked up, meeting Boar’s eyes. “Ondernifam has found what you seek. He says that it is time for you to go home.”
When Boar came crashing into the throne room, he found Ondernifam lounging on an enormous iron chair, a smirk on his powerful face. Ondernifam climbed to his feet as Boar entered, and roared in triumph.
“I heard of your great deeds!” Ondernifam came stomping down to meet Boar on the floor. “You have laid waste to a great city that has withstood our assaults for many years. Truly, you are the greatest warrior I know.”
Boar dipped his head. “I seek only to serve my master.”
“And serve well, you have!” Ondernifam chuckled. “Since your departure, I have received word that my armies have laid siege to another infidel city. It will soon fall. Productivity is much higher now that your visit was a success.”
Boar smiled. “I am glad to have pleased my commander.”
“You’ve done more than that.” Ondernifam walked past him and out into the hall. “Come.” Boar followed as Ondernifam began to wind his way through the fortress. “We stand on the brink of victory. We stand ready to annihilate the world. And now, thanks to you, we can conquer other worlds as well.”
Boar frowned. “You found the wizarding academy?”
Ondernifam nodded. “It took months of my time, but we were able to locate it. The inhabitants do not yet know that we know, which gives us an advantage.”
Boar crossed his arms. “How were you able to discern its location?”
“Simple, really.” Ondernifam flashed a small grin. “It was betrayed to us.”
Without any further explanation, Ondernifam pushed through a door and into the battle room. The map of Calsin still stood there, with dozens of orclings ready to move totems back and forth on the board. A handful of orcish generals stood around the edge of the map, but… That wasn’t the interesting part.
No, the interesting part was the enormous man that stood a head taller than any of the orcs. His skin was a burnt red, his beard was a brilliant orange. There was no doubt in Boar’s mind that he was looking at a demigod of some fashion.
“Boar, I’d like you to meet Theronsaid.” Ondernifam gestured at the individual. “He’s a hemigod, born from the blood of Hinchipol and Dararma.”
Boar frowned in curiosity. A demigod, by definition, was the child of a god and a mortal. If a demigod was to have a child with a mortal, that child would be a semigod. If the semigod, in turn, was to have a child with another demigod, a hemigod would be formed. There were other possible combinations that would produce a similar dilution of divine blood, but… Hemigods, with just around forty percent divine heritage, tended to be far more violent and unpredictable than other forms of gods, as they often felt cheated by how close they were to being half-and-half.
“Well met.” Boar nodded. “Why would you help lowly orcs?”
“Simple.” Theronsaid rumbled, his voice shaking the entire room. “The humans slaughtered my father to gain access to their paltry magic. I wish to kill every last one of them!”
“We need a few alive.” Boar crossed his arms. “But I would be honored to have you fight by my side.”
“You will be fighting by my side.” Theronsaid slammed a fist into the table, cracking it. Almost instantly, half a dozen orclings scampered off to find repair supplies. “And I will slay them all!”
“Boar does have a point.” Ondernifam stalked up next to Theronsaid. “We need at least some of the humans alive. The creatures known as Realm Mages.”
Theronsaid sneered at Ondernifam. “Pathetic orc! Don’t you know that-”
Ondernifam roared back at Theronsaid. “You will not talk to the mighty Ondernifam like that!” Theronsaid blinked, and Ondernifam continued. “You are a hemigod, not a full god. You sought our help when you learned of our goals. If you could take the Academy all by yourself, you would have done so by now.” Ondernifam paused for a breath. “You will leave the Realm Mages alive. If you do not, my armies will descend upon you and rip your skin from your flesh. I’ve heard that the blood of demigods can allow mortals to ascend to temporary godhood. Would you like me to test that theory?”
Theronsaid snarled softly, but nodded. “I will leave the pathetic mages alive.”
“Good.” Ondernifam nodded. “In that case, we have a plan.” He turned to Boar. “You will ride out at once. I expect prompt results. I am redirecting five of my battalions to assist in this endeavor. Do not fail me. We will lose many troops in this battle, so I expect to be able to make them back up.”
“It will be done.” Boar dipped his head.
“Then depart!” Ondernifam roared. Theronsaid turned and stomped out of the room, along with the other orcish generals. Boar turned to leave as well, but halted as Ondernifam stopped him.
“Yes, master?” Boar turned back to Ondernifam, a bit puzzled. “Is something wrong?”
“Not at all.” Ondernifam grinned. “Three of the women you bred with are now with child. The name of Boar will live on for years to come, assuming they are male.”
Boar smiled back. He would have an heir! It was something he had forsaken when he became a Hunter. Now that he would have children… It filled him with a greater pride than ever before.
“I will train them in the ways of the warrior.” Boar crossed his arms. “I will survive this battle and all battles to come, bringing them up to do the same.”
“Good!” Ondernifam smiled. “Now go, bring us honor and glory!”
Boar turned and marched from the room, following after the red-skinned monster and the other orcish leaders. They were going to lay waste across all realms, become an unstoppable force that would never cease. He might eventually fall, but his children would live on for a thousand generations.
He would be unstoppable.
“Here we are.” Theronsaid stomped to a halt. “The edge of the Academy.”
Boar sniffed the air. From what he could tell, it was just empty prairie. So empty, in fact, that he didn’t want to bother with it at all.
“This is too boring for an academy.” Boar snorted. “There is nothing here.”
“Oh, I think there is.” Theronsaid turned around. “Is your army ready?”
Boar turned around as well, facing the enormous contingent of troops behind him. Stretching out for miles on end was an endless hoard of nearly fifty thousand troops. They had been recalled from every front, every hotspot of activity across the country. And now, they were ready to charge through the gates and take the Academy. Assuming, of course, that they could find it.
“We fight for glory!” Boar roared into the air.
“We fight for glory!” The cry was echoed by fifty thousand voices, turning into a resounding roar that shook the ground. Boar turned back and nodded.
“We stand ready.”
“Good.” Theronsaid smiled and raised his fist. “Then let the battle of the academy begin.”
He leapt forward and punched the air, striking with all his might. As a ten-foot tell hemigod, he could pack quite a punch. His fist struck something, as his whole body slammed into an invisible magic field. Lightning crackled out from the point of impact, striking into the crowd and killing several orcs before the battle ever began.
Theronsaid roared even louder than Boar himself could manage. Still hanging in the air, he gave several strong kicks, each flinging out more lightning. The air was distinctly distorted now, so that Boar was able to see an enormous, hazy dome that hung over the grassland.
“Front line!” Boar roared. “Attack with blood!”
A hundred orcs on either side of him stepped forward, their skin blackening as they drew on their forbidden magic. All of them simultaneously opened their mouths and breathed flame onto the dome, sending ever more ripples through the sky. The dome began to become more and more clear, transforming into a grey shield that soon began to look black.
“We’ve got them now.” Theronsaid dropped back to the ground and held up his hand. An enormous, golden spear appeared in his palm. Fire blazed up and down its length, and he hurdled the weapon straight into the dome.
With an enormous boom, cracks flowed across the surface of the dome. The blackened shield shattered into a thousand pieces, turning into nothing more than ash as it drifted to the ground. Now, revealed by the destructive magic, Boar could see a fifty-foot wide moat protecting the Academy.
It was just like he remembered it. Domed buildings rising from the prairie, sprinkled between gardens and other training areas. In the distance, a mile away, he could see the Academy itself. A castle of enormous proportions, towering above the grasslands. Tiny broomsticks already zoomed back and forth above the towers, trying desperately to prepare for the attack.
“Shall we attack?” Theronsaid took a deep breath as the front-line orcs burst into flames and began to die from excessive blood magic use.
“Wait.” Boar held up a hand. “The Academy has defenses. They’ll be coming-”
Right on cue, enormous spheres rose up from the moat. Made from stone and infused with magic, they were covered in runes and were just as deadly as they appeared. As water cascaded down from its surface, magical attacks exploded off their surface.
Fireballs streaked into the crowd of orcs, cutting down a dozen orcs with each blast. Lightning leapt from target to target, rain and hail tore through bodies like arrows. Boar roared and held up his arms, calling upon a simple blood magic spell of protection. A fireball slammed into his body, only to bounce off and fall back into the moat, where it died with a hiss.
“Now!” Boar charged forward, holding his shield in front of him. The nearest sphere turned to him and loosed a stream of grasshoppers that raged against his protection like a hurricane. Boar ground his teeth together as the magical insects tore past him and began eating the flesh of nearby orcs.
As he reached the edge of the moat, he leapt into the air, calling on his blood magic to enhance his leap. The ground seemed to fall away as he sailed up and over, landing on the opposite bank.
His feet struck the soft mud of the opposite bank just in time to be frozen solid as the spheres unleashed a deadly ice attack. Boar just snarled and melted the ice, but the damage had been done. His attention had been diverted elsewhere for the split second it took for another sphere to hit him with a sheet of rain. He was blown into the ground, unable to breathe as the crushing liquid threatened to break his bones and reduce his body to pulp.
“Not today!” Boar roared and called upon his body once more, spitting a gout of flame into the water. Fire roared against rain, causing an enormous plume of steam. His knees buckled as the magic began to extract its toll. No. They were only just across the moat, he couldn’t be falling now!
With a loud crack, Theronsaid leapt across the gap, thrusting a burning lance into one of the spheres. The device cracked open with a mournful scream, releasing a blast of green magic that tossed Boar roughly to the ground. Theronsaid spun and threw a second spear that simply appeared in his hand, cracking apart the next sphere over. Without hesitation, he began cracking open other nearby orbs as well, slowly widening the gap for the orcs to get across.
Boar stood up and took a breath, allowing his body to heal. Theronsaid stepped up next to him after a moment and placed an enormous hand on Boar’s shoulder. Healing energies flowed through his body, reviving his magic. Boar took a deep breath, and Theronsaid roared.
“And now we march on their castle.” He nodded at the hoard as the orcs began swimming across the moat. “What should we expect next?”
Boar raised an eyebrow. “You couldn’t have done that sooner?”
“Magic is tricky.” Theronsaid shrugged. “Now, next?”
Before Boar could answer, shrill screams rose in the sky. Shadows raced across the ground as broomsticks shot through the sky. Boar looked up to see several legions of witches appearing out of thin air, allowing their invisibility spells to wind down. They dropped straight down, spells forming in their hands.
“Them.” Boar roared upward. “Above! Archers!”
A thunderous roar answered him. Orcish archers drew their bows back, skin turning black as they endowed the arrows with fiery magic. With a thousand twangs, arrows soared upward into the clouds.
Boar smiled in triumph as dozens of witches were blown out of the sky in a single volley. Broomsticks shattered as arrows exploded upon impact, men and women alike were tossed from their lifts to come crashing down to the muddy ground. Theronsaid raised his hands, forming a ring of fireballs around his body. One by one, the fireballs began to flash upward, sailing into the witches above.
With that, the witches drew into range. Deadly spells fell down upon the orcs, though spectral weapons seemed to be a favorite. Ghostly arrows and blades that fell from the sky, no shield or armor could stop them. Dozens of orcs simply dropped to the ground, dead, as they failed to dodge the mysterious projectiles.
Boar roared and formed a shield around his body. Not a moment later, a hail of arrows bounced off his magical protection, ricocheting into Theronsaid. The hemigod screamed and retaliated by throwing a series of spectral weapons back into the sky. Several witches fell screaming from the attack, and Boar smiled.
“Time to join the fight.” Boar muttered as a series of witches zoomed down over the grass, angling for the god and the commander. He roared powerfully and jumped forward, meeting their attack. The leader, an older man, had only a moment to look surprised before Boar body-slammed him, driving him from the broomstick and likely breaking every bone in his body. Boar grabbed the broom as it passed and used it to smash the next witch in the chest. The woman, a younger girl, was tossed from her perch while her own broomstick whirred off into the distance. Boar pounced on her and snapped her neck before she could move.
The other three witches in the formation shot straight past Theronsaid and dropped several totems into the moat. The hemigod shot one of them down with a fireball before a massive torrent of water surged up from the moat and swallowed him.
Across the moat, any and all orcs trying to cross the waters found themselves overwhelmed as the water gained a new life. Liquid arms reached up, grabbing onto anyone nearby. Tentacles snaked up the banks, pulling in nearby orcs. All that were taken were drawn under the water, only to be thrown back as they drowned and died.
Boar snarled and charged back towards the moat. Several hundred orcs stood on the Academy’s side of the moat, but many thousands more had yet to cross. If it became impossible, what would they be able to do?
Boar launched himself into the air as he reached the moat, sailing up and over the water. Halfway across, a watery figure rose up from the depths. A water golem. Maybe several. The figure opened its mouth and swallowed Boar whole, sucking him back down into the moat.
Boar struck the mud mere instants later. His feet sank into the substance, holding him fast. Bodies slammed into him as the golems tossed orcs around like playthings. Nevertheless, he stayed focused. Before anything else could happen, he cast a blood magic spell out into the water. It was a simple spell that would kill any lower life forms that happened to be around. In water, it could kill an entire lake of fish in mere seconds.
Here, Boar only wanted to destroy the totems. Golems were interesting creatures, despite the fact that they were technically magical constructs, they could be destroyed with spells that drained health. Almost instantly, the waters seemed to calm. A hand latched down on his arm, pulling him up and out of the muck. He was tossed onto the bank as Theronsaid ripped him from the waves, where he lay, gasping.
“Quick thinking.” Theronsaid muttered. “You know how to fight.”
“I know how to kill almost anything.” Boar climbed back to his feet. “Heal me. Now.”
Theronsaid nodded and held up his hand, sending streamers of light into Boar’s flesh. The damage to his muscles vanished in an instant, giving him more blood magic to draw upon. He took a deep breath and glanced back at the invading armies. The moat was calm once more, though hundreds of dead bodies floated in the murky waters. Overhead, only a few witches were left, though those that were there weren’t giving up.
Boar roared and thrust up his hands. Instantly, the hoard surged forward, pouring into the moat and forcing their way across. He then spun back to the Academy, more than ready to breach the impenetrable walls.
“Lead on.” Theronsaid rumbled. “You should have the honor.”
“Wait.” Boar held up a hand. There was nothing but prairie between the moat and the start of the buildings, where he could see a number of people lying in wait. Battlemages, from their dress. “Let the foot soldiers go first.”
With that, the hoard of orcs tore past, racing across the prairie. Enormous feet tore the grass into shreds, trampling the grass into mere twigs. Boar held his breath as the hoard reached nearly the halfway point. They would start soon. They had to.
With a loud crack, a tree erupted from the ground. Roots exploded from the dirt, limbs twisted through the sky. Wood slammed into flesh, as six nearby orcs were impaled by the deadly foliage. An instant after that, fireballs roared upward from other parts of the field, cooking orcish flesh into ash.
All across the battlefield, magical mines detonated, killing orcs left and right. Only feet in front of Boar, a shower of sparks filled the air, transforming everything that breathed them in into statues. More orcs slammed into the statues from behind, breaking bones against the impossibly hard stone. On another part of the battlefield, part of the ground simply turned to quicksand, sucking down the brave men who tried to cross it.
“A minefield.” Theronsaid rumbled. “Clever.”
“We just have to wait for the mines to be expended.” Boar rumbled. “Soon. Very soon.”
Ahead, the first line of surviving orcs smashed into the buildings, where they fell against the battlemages. From where he stood, Boar could see steel and magic all flashing together to form a terrifying display of blood.
Though he desired nothing more than to join them, the minefield was still quite active. A swath of orcs collapsed, screaming in pain as vines burst from under their skin and raced across the ground. An inter-realm portal opened up, sucking several more orcs away into what appeared to be Firengot. As they vanished, flames belched from the portal before it closed.
“You.” Light pulsed just next to him, and a blast wave struck him. He was thrown to the side, where he struck Theronsaid and both collapsed in a heap. Sapphire appeared from the air, her eye blazing with fire. Flames actually trailed out of her eye, blossoming to the side of her face. “You betrayed us!”
“I betrayed no one!” Boar roared and jumped back to his feet. “I betrayed Ondernifam when I abandoned him. He took me back!”
“Then you’re truly no better than the other savages.” Sapphire held up her staff.
A bolt of energy pulsed from the crystal, only for Theronsaid to step in front of Boar. The blast bounced harmlessly off his body, flashing off into the sky. Theronsaid cracked his knuckles and smiled.
“Wait.” Boar held up a hand. “Go join the fight. I’ll take her.”
Theronsaid frowned. “Alright. Fight well.”
With that, Theronsaid turned and charged across the minefield. A hoard of skeletons rose from the ground, but he blasted them apart with a roar. All around, orcs continued to ford through the moat and charge up into glory. Sapphire ignored it all, and simply glared in fury at Boar.
“I trusted you.” Sapphire’s voice shook. “Franclin trusted you! And you killed him!”
“I’ll kill more people by the time I’m done.” Boar thundered. “You’re nothing more than a bug that gets in my way!”
Sapphire screamed and thrust out the staff at him. Boar called on his magic and jumped up into the air, sailing over the first blast. The second blast caught him in the chest, tossing him back onto the minefield. He cast a spell of destruction as he landed, blasting a small crater in the dirt. No use in setting off any mines.
Sapphire advanced towards him. An orc tried to slash her as he ran past, and Sapphire’s eye incinerated him without even blinking.
“You’re a pathetic orc.” Sapphire slammed her staff into the ground. Roots erupted from the ground, wrapping around Boar’s body. He was drawn to the ground, forced to his knees. Desperately, he clawed at the growth, but his claws were unable to break through. “You’re going to die like a dog. How does that make you feel?”
“At least dying like a dog is better than dying as a human.” Boar snarled. “You could have joined with us!”
“That would have been foolish.” Sapphire spun and pointed her staff out across the moat, where thousands of orcs still waited their turn. “Witness my power.”
The staff glowed with energy as torrents of magic poured from the glowing red crystal. Lightning bolts streamed across the ground, killing a thousand orcs in a single blast. Sapphire took a deep breath while her magic dissipated.
Before she had a chance to say anything else, Boar took a deep breath, casting a fiery blood magic spell. Flames exploded from his mouth, striking the sorceress in the back. Sapphire was thrown forward, her staff flying from her hands. The vines around Boar dissolved, and he lept at the girl.
She held out her hand, the staff simply reappeared in her palm. She spun like a top, smashing the wood into the side of Boar’s face. He was tossed to the side, where he landed in a heap. She leapt into the air, stabbing the staff like a spear.
Boar threw up his hands and called upon the same spell of protection that he had been using. The staff smashed straight through it, causing the spear to drive deep into his stomach. He roared and smashed his fist into the side of Sapphire’s head, knocking her to the side. As she landed, he could see the magic around her eye flickering.
Boar roared and climbed back to his feet, pulling the staff back out of his body. He flipped it around and smashed it into Sapphire’s back, driving her back to the ground. Pain lanced through his entire body, radiating all the way out to his limbs. He gasped for air and bent over double, forcibly willing himself not to call upon blood magic. He could feel healing energies slowly pulling his flesh back together, but it was going to take several minutes.
Sapphire climbed back to her feet, swaying uneasily. She thrust out her hand, causing the staff to vanish from his palms and reappear once more in her own grasp. Before she could unleash another pulse of energy, Boar lunged forward and punched her in the stomach, tossing her backwards. She went down hard, her head cracking loudly against the ground. The motion caused Boar to lose his balance, and he fell to the ground next to her, trying not to scream as his body attempted to heal itself.
“No!” Sapphire screamed. Fire exploded out of her eye, blasting up into the clouds. “You can’t win!”
Boar took a deep breath and flexed his claws. “I will destroy you!”
He rolled over and slammed a fist down on top of Sapphire. As his fist struck home, she vanished, reappearing nearby. He groaned and forced himself back to his feet as she tried to point the staff at him. She swayed violently, releasing several blasts of energy that blew massive craters into the ground. As the tip of her staff began to glow once more, Boar scooped a large rock up off the ground and threw it at her. The rock caught her in the shoulder, spinning her slightly. The staff released a magical bolt of lightning that arced across the battlefield and struck one of the buildings in the distance. It exploded powerfully, sending a number of battlemages flying.
Sapphire’s eyes went wide, and she vanished behind a whirl of energy. Boar took a deep breath and slowly started walking across the battlefield. Around him, several other orcs that had been injured in the early volleys were doing much the same thing, walking slowly while their bodies healed. Nearby, an orc with a severed arm held the detached limb up to his shoulder, waiting while ligaments slowly stretched across the distance.
Boar took a deep breath as his skin covered up the wound. He could still feel his internal organs piecing themselves back together, but it was something. Around him, more and more orcs surged across the minefield, which by now wasn’t letting anything new lose. Boar stumbled across the dead bodies that littered the ground, slowly regaining strength.
By now, past the minefield, the battle raged across the campus. Orcs and battlemages alike tore past buildings, killing and fighting with gusto. There were no defined lines, no places to hide. Just one endless sea of battle that was slowly pushing its way closer and closer to the castle.
By the time Boar reached the edge of the buildings, he was feeling far better. He began to lope across the ground once again, racing into the fray of battle. A female battlemage lunged at him, curved sword glistening with whatever spells she had prepared for the battle.
Boar simply roared, exhaling flame like a dragon. The woman’s skull turned to ash, and the headless body collapsed to the ground. A scream filled the air as a man, presumably her husband or lover, charged at Boar with a similar curved sword.
He jumped before Boar could move, propelled by magic and rage. He slashed up and across Boar’s head, leaving a long slice across his temple. Perhaps the only thing that saved Boar from losing an eye was his right tusk, which deflected the sword at the last moment. The man continued his arc, landing behind the massive orc, and Boar spun to face him.
Almost instantly, Boar was lifted off his feet as the man thrust out his hand, loosing a blast of explosive magic that struck him in the chest. He was thrown into a nearby building, where stone cracked under the impact. The man leapt forward without hesitation, sword cocked and ready.
The brave warrior was blown to the side as another orc leapt into the fray, smashing into the human and knocking him to the ground. The orc roared and slashed his claws across the man’s neck, spraying blood across the ground. As the mage’s eyes glazed over, he let out one final burst of magic, a raging inferno that rose from the ground and turned the orc into a small pile of ash. Boar ducked as the fire erupted over his head and melted some of the stone that composed the building.
“Boar!” Theronsaid slammed into the ground next to the epicenter, spraying gravel as his enormous feet cracked the scorched stone. “I require your assistance!”
“You’re a demigod.” Boar roared and stalked forward. Another battlemage, dressed in long blue combat robes, slashed the head off a nearby orc and leapt through the air at the demigod. Theronsaid snapped his fingers, causing the battlemage to explode violently, blood spattering through the air. “What do you need my help with?”
In answer, a massive bolt of lightning erupted from the sky and struck Theronsaid in the chest. He was tossed backwards into a stone hut, crumbling stone and shattering glass. Another demigod fell from the sky, slamming into the ground. Horigor, the witch relations demigod. Boar had only had limited interactions with him, but his power had always been impressive. Golden hair hung from a head that towered a head higher than Boar himself.
Boar snarled and took a step back. Demigods weren’t easy to defeat, but they weren’t invulnerable. If he had to wager a guess, Horigor had a bit more divine blood than Theronsaid, which would make for an interesting battle.
Before Boar could make a move, a beam of pure light shot down from the sky, allowing a woman to materialize next to Horigor. She was another demigod, that much Boar was certain of. A gown made from long, flowing silk fell from her shoulders and swept back across the ground, seemingly unaffected by the horror of the battlefield.
Several orcs ran into the clearing and charged the demigods. Horigor clapped his hands, sending a shock wave across the ground. Boar felt a massive thump in his chest, grimacing as he felt something pop. The orcish attackers, far closer to the blast, crumpled under the impact, every bone in their body shattered in an instant.
The woman simply narrowed her gaze, frowning across the war zone. Beams of light exploded from her eyes, transforming hundreds of orcs into… Nothingness. They simply vanished, whisked away to wherever she had taken them.
Theronsaid came charging back out of the destroyed home, fire in his fists. He appeared taller than he had once been, now towering nearly twelve feet high. Horigor didn’t bat an eye, he simply balled his fingers into a fist and punched Theronsaid in the chest. The enormous Septigod was thrown backwards yet again, flung across the battlefield like a rag doll. Slowly, Horigor turned to face Boar, a glare on his face.
“You have betrayed your vows.” Horigor’s voice boomed into Boar’s skull. “You have betrayed-”
Boar closed his eyes and called upon his blood magic, picturing Theronsaid in his mind. A cocoon of ash formed around his body, and he was thrown across space, appearing next to the downed Septigod. He was nearly a quarter mile away, in a ditch formed by the impact of Theronsaid himself. The massive partial deity struggled to his feet, a sneer on his face.
“Stop!” Boar held up a hand. “You’ll never win that way!”
Theronsaid glared down at Boar, growing several more feet. “You are a puny orc! You know nothing of godly conflicts!”
“I know enough!” Boar roared back. “I know you’ll never defeat Horigor that way!”
Theronsaid paused and sighed, shrinking down to a more normal height. “How do you propose I defeat him, then?”
“You asked for my help, so you should listen.” Boar snarled, then turned. Several battlemages were rushing in their direction, splitting away from the main attack force. He took a deep breath and allowed pure fire to roll out of his chest, a purifying wave of flame. Two of the battlemages burst into flame and collapsed in death throws, though the others kept coming. Theronsaid snapped his fingers once more, killing them, before turning to Boar once more.
“I know Horigor.” Boar rumbled. “I’ve spoken to him.”
Theronsaid spat. “If you have spoken with such a treacherous-”
Boar shook his head. “It was in a different world.” He closed his eyes and tried to think. Horigor represented one of the single greatest threats that he had ever sized up. In fact, the only weakness he had ever discovered about the demigod came from a single document that he had uncovered in the archives during his training there. “Horigor’s power is dependent on his father. The farther away he gets from the god, the weaker he becomes. I don’t know who that god is, but_”
“A dist-dependent relationship.” Theronsaid rumbled. “But then why is he at the Academy? There aren’t any…” His voice trailed off. “Astheris.”
Boar frowned. The name sounded familiar, a name thrown around in legends and mystery. “Astheris?”
“Come with me.” Theronsaid smirked. “Follow closely!”
With that, Theronsaid turned and tore across the battlefield. His already long legs ate up the ground, trailing flames with every footfall. Boar had to draw upon his blood magic to speed himself up, moving at leaps and bounds that could have allowed him to run across Elsinor in a single day.
Ahead, battlemages raged against orcs. Theronsaid, in his enraged state, burned through the ranks of the mages with almost no resistance. Boar flew behind him, breathing in the ash and blood of his enemies.
Theronsaid whirred across the battlefield, angling towards a large, blue-metal dome that rose from the scorched prairie. As the two warriors reached the building, Theronsaid leapt up into the air and held out his hand. A black steel hammer formed in his palm, which he slammed into the dome. A shockwave rippled across the prairie as the metal cracked down the middle, allowing a loud bong to echo loudly. Theronsaid fell back to the ground and smashed the weapon into the building a second time, blasting aside metal plates and crumbling the stone underneath. A third strike broke a large enough hole to run through, and Theronsaid leapt into the darkness.
Boar followed, finding himself in a dome that once had been magnificent. It looked like a temple to the gods, with dozens of alters scattered around the sides of the gold-embossed dome. The floor was a mural of gemstones and fused glass, forming an image of a starry sky.
Theronsaid raised his hands, allowing streamers of fire to rise into the top of the dome. A great iron ball formed and plunged towards the floor, ready to crash into the mural with the force of a million hammers.
Before it could strike, green flame washed through the room, tossing Boar and Theronsaid back into the walls. Horigor and the mysterious female demigod rushed into the dome, bursting through the doors that had likely been unlocked the whole time. The iron weight transformed into an array of butterflies that swirled through the air before rushing out of the hole that Theronsaid had made.
“Theronsaid.” Horigor balled his fists. “You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting for this.”
“Oh, I think I do.” Theonsaid climbed back to his feet. “You were tasked with stopping me… What, five hundred years ago?” His mouth twisted into a grin. “You haven’t managed to win yet. And you won’t start now.”
Horigor roared and swore in a language that Boar didn’t understand. Streamers of solid fire erupted from the ground and wrapped around Theronsaid, binding him tight. His face became a mask of fear instead of hate, and Boar grimaced. From what he could tell, Theronsaid was quite horribly outmatched when it came to the two demigods.
“You’ve brought nothing but terror to the world ever since you were born.” Horigor snarled.
“And you’ve done nothing but stand up for the people who hold nothing but contempt for our parents!” Theronsaid roared. “Have you no pride in being a demigod? The humans slaughtered Hinchipol! Dararma gave herself up for them! Gods die left and right at the hands of the humans!”
“Perhaps there is a reason for that.” Horigor rumbled. “You will not talk your way out of this. Do you have any final words? There is no afterlife for our kind, so I suggest that you make them count.”
Theronsaid spat at Horigor. “I wish only destruction on those who defy our godly parents. The world is made for us, not the humans.”
Horigor nodded and clenched his fist. The fires slowly began to contract, burning Theronsaid’s flesh. Blood spurted from the wounds, splashing down onto the mural, where it burst into flame and began eating at the intricate design.
With a snap, Boar’s eyes opened wide. The two demigods were distracted with killing Theronsaid, they likely weren’t paying him much attention at all. Which gave him a chance to attack! The only problem was that, even with as much blood magic as his body could provide, he didn’t think he would be able to put so much as a scratch on any of them. Which meant that he could either sacrifice himself, or…
Or, he could destroy the floor. Theronsaid had been dead-set on breaking through the mural. Slowly, Boar climbed to his feet and began to draw on his magic, pouring energy into his palms. Horigor never looked away from Theronsaid, but the woman next to him slowly turned to face Boar.
“You do not know what you are doing.” She spoke softly, though it echoed through the air as if it had been a thunderous explosion. “You cannot harm us. Please, step down. If you stop, I swear, you will live.”
“You’ve killed hundreds of my kind.” Boar tried to make himself sound intimidating. “Why should I believe you?”
“I only attacked those who were attacking my own people.” The woman continued to speak slowly but powerfully. “I did not kill any of them. I simply placed them in a pocket dimension, where they will live out the rest of their days in peace before dying painlessly. I did them a favor, a favor that you seem keen not to replicate.”
“We are orcs.” Boar snarled as his palms began to burn. “We take what we will!”
“You are orcs.” The woman agreed. “You will destroy yourselves. So many millions have died from your war. So many more will continue to die if you overtake the continent. Can you not see that?”
Boar grinned, not minding as the tusks pricked into his skin. “No. No, I cannot.”
The woman shrugged. “My brother alleges that in another world, you were a good person. Just think of all the good you could do here.”
“I am doing good.” Boar nodded. “The good of the orcish empire!”
The woman sighed. “It seems my brother was wrong, then.” She raised a hand. “Orcs are only good for the slaughter.”
With a roar, Boar raised his hands and slammed his fists down onto the stone. Blood magic erupted through the mural, shattering gemstones into slivers and turning stone into dust. And, with that, the floor collapsed entirely.
In that instant, Boar found himself floating above a massive cave. All four individuals dropped through the air, arcing towards the ground over a hundred feet below. A shattered set of stairs rose up into the air, the remnants of the older way of getting down from the domed room. Boar didn’t have a chance to see anything more than that before he struck the ground. The air left his lungs, and his body grew weak as the blood magic took its toll.
Theronsaid struck the ground just next to him, his chains of fire long gone. He poured healing energy into Boar’s body, allowing the orc to leap back to his feet in a split second. Horigor and the woman hit the ground a moment later, fear etched across their faces.
Theronsaid roared and held out his hands, launching a series of fireballs. Taken off-guard, Horigor and the woman were thrown backwards across the cave, battering against stones and rubble. Boar frowned as he watched them roll. At the far end of the cavern, behind their receding backs, two enormous gates were set in the stone. One of them seemed made from gold, a shining, shimmering edifice. The second gate seemed made from obsidian, covered in runes that glowed with an inner fire.
“Come forth!” Theronsaid leapt forward, fire brewing in his hands. He launched a series of fireballs once more, though they didn’t seem aimed at the two demigods. Instead, the raging fire slammed into the golden gate, melting metal into liquid streams and sending rolling concussions throughout the caverns.
Horigor and the woman transformed into streamers, curtains blown on the wind. They whipped across the cavern and vanished through the bars of the golden gate, vanishing into the void behind it. With that, the gate lit up with an inner light, transforming into a simple stone wall. Theronsaid sighed and crossed his arms.
“And now they’re gone.” He snorted. “Good riddance.”
Boar frowned and stepped up next to the Septigod. “What did you do?”
“That was a gate to Astheris.” Theronsaid rumbled. “The city of the gods. If I had been able to destroy it, the two demigods would have been reduced to mortals.”
Boar nodded slowly. “And the other gate?”
“Vorthis.” Theronsaid sighed. “The city of the demons.”
Boar crossed his arms. “Can you cross into either?”
Theronsaid snorted softly. “Perhaps we should continue our conquest of the Academy.”
Boar began to protest, but Theronsaid grabbed his arm and hauled him upwards. The two of them were thrown upwards, back into the fray.
As Boar landed, he found that quite a lot seemed to have happened while they squared off with the demigods. Bodies of both mages and orcs lay scattered across the battlefield, though there were far more living orcs than living mages. Even as Boar watched, a fleet of broom-riding witches fell from the sky, flames trailing from their robes. As they hit the ground, dull booms echoed across the ground. Only a handful of resistance forces still stood outside the castle, and most of those were falling backwards rapidly.
“Come forth!” Theronsaid roared and charged forward, streaking once more across the battlefield. Orcs scattered out of his way, though several burst into flames as they failed to move fast enough. More than two dozen remaining mages drew together in front of the enormous entry gates, spectral spears forming in their hands as the demigod ran forward.
Theronsaid clapped his hands, causing lightning to fall from the sky onto the mages. They died in seconds, and he jumped over their bodies and crashed into the wooden doors. The resounding crash, the sound of splintering wood, the creak of rusty metal, it sounded glorious in Boar’s ears.
The doors fell inward as women and children screamed. By the time Boar reached the opening, hundreds of refugees lay dead as Theronsaid stood on the broken doors. Inside, a handful of remaining mages stood around the fountain of mana, faces awash in fear as they faced down their doom.
“You have fought well.” Theronsaid roared. “Do you have any final words?”
Together, the mages raised their hands as magic began to spiral over their heads. Theronsaid simply snapped his fingers, causing massive torrents of lighting to explode from the fountain of mana. The mages collapsed, allowing their deadly strands of magic to dissipate. Boar took a deep breath. The conquest was done. They were…
Theronsaid laughed and raised his hands as lightning continued to explode from the fountain of mana. Boar felt his stomach sinking as the lightning began to form a spectral sword, hovering high in the middle of the atrium.
“Theronsaid.” Boar stomped forward. “This wasn’t the plan.”
“You are an orcish infidel.” Theronsaid snapped. “This was always the plan.”
With that, the Septigod let out a head-pounding roar. The sword plunged into the heart of the fountain, causing gouts of fire to explode upward. Smoke filled the atrium, driving Boar back. A blast of energy tossed him roughly from the room, where he struck the ground just outside the castle.
As the smoke cleared, the castle walls began to crack and split. Boar’s blood turned to ice as the castle was transformed into gravel. As it fell, Boar caught a glimpse of a massive figure, a man rising from the destruction of the building. It appeared human, well over a hundred feet tall, with skin made from living stone and fire. A crown sat on his head, set with gemstones that cast piercing bolts of light through the destruction and smoke.
“Give me your hand!” Red light pulsed through the air as Sapphire materialized in front of Boar. Her staff was held tightly in her hands, its red crystal blazing with inner fire. Flames trailed from her eye, wrapping around the side of her head like a protective helmet.
Boar had no intention of doing as the sorceress said, but was helpless as she simply grabbed his paw and transported the two of them away. Light pulsed across his vision as he materialized several miles away, with the Academy a simple dot on the horizon.
Only moments passed before a cloud shaped like a mushroom belched upward into the sky. A sweeping boom echoed through the air, which was soon followed by a scorching wind that singed Boar’s skin.
“I hope you’re happy.” Sapphire turned to Boar, her voice hollow. “You’ve killed a hundred thousand people. It’s impressive, really.”
Boar snorted and flexed his claws. “Why save me?”
“The Eye wants you alive.” Sapphire spat. “I don’t know why. If it were up to me, I would strike you down on the spot.” She turned and stared up at him, her burning eye never diminishing in its ferocity. “Each sorcerous artifact represents a different aspect of Hinchipol’s personality. The Eye represents destruction, and truly, there is no one in Calsin more destructive than you.” She sneered up at the orc. “It is my belief that the Eye believes you to be the only one capable of destroying Ondernifam’s reign of terror. Please, don’t let me be wrong.”
With that, she vanished in a burst of energy, leaving Boar alone on the prairie. He took a deep breath as the scorching wind continued to roll across the grass. There had been no survivors of the Academy except himself, of that he was certain. Why he had been saved didn’t make any sense. What monster had risen from the ruins of the Academy didn’t make any sense.
All he knew was that, with its destruction, he was trapped in this new world. And what that meant… He didn’t want to think about at all.
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